Sunday, October 21, 2012

Scientist mom: Farming

Last weekend the Bear and I met up with friends at the Little Farm at Tilden Park. Unfortunately she vomited all over herself and her carseat when we pulled up to park. I think it was a combination of the windy-drive with coughing due to her cold that just affected her gag reflex. Afterwards she felt fine. When I parked to clean her up I told her we were just going home, and she said, "no, farm!". She seemed fine, so I scrounged around (of course I didn't have an extra outfit with me), and fashioned her a dress out of my tank top, pulled up her long socks, and snuggled her up in my jacket, topped off with a hat.

We had a great time feeding lettuce to the cows, geese, goats, and sheep. Then, along with our friends and their 10 month old daughter, we explored the Nature center. Later we met up with some other parents and their kids for a delicious picnic.

When we got home I cleaned out her carseat, taking it completely apart. I was surprised at how far apart I could dismantle it. I hung the cover up to dry in the bathroom.

The Bear had fallen asleep on the way home, but woke up after 45 min, a little disoriented. I picked her up and she fell asleep, so we took a nap together on the couch. It was awesome.

In the afternoon, Husband, Bear and I walked down to check out Sunday Streets Berkeley. It was pretty neat to walk down Shattuck, one of the main throughways here in Berkeley. We only made it near the tail-end of the event, so I can't make an overall judgement of it, other than it was very pleasant to walk around with so many other families, people, and dogs out just enjoying the day. I hope they do it again.

Oh, and, I got into an argument with a woman at the Sunday Streets who was blindly encouraging people to "Vote Yes on 37", the GMO-labelling proposition on the ballot here in California. If she weren't so pushy, I would have been able to avoid her. But... she was spewing absolute nonsense and I couldn't resist telling her so. "Did you know that over 150,000 farmers have committed suicide because of Monsanto?", she said. Ignoring the fact that this claim seems intentionally provocative and perhaps unfounded (although I found the reference here from an Indian filmaker, and have yet to determine its truth), I told her that I agreed that Monsanto is a conglomerate who has done many deplorable things, and I think they should be regulated. But prop 37 doesn't address Monsanto or their actions in the slightest. 

This caused her to pause for a minute before she said, "Well, we just want to know what we are eating." I responded that the labeling requirements in 37 are also not sufficient to label GMOs, and appears to be aimed at fear-mongering the public rather than informing them about any potential dangers. It would be, I argued, similar to labeling only red fruits as "containing DNA". I think the general public is not aware that everything we eat contains DNA. And even if they are aware, it would be suspect to label only some fruits as containing DNA, and many people would be afraid to consume red fruits simply because of the label. 

Further, the proposition includes many exceptions, including foods that are "unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material". If the goal of the proposition is really to inform the public, then why make exceptions for foods that contain genetically engineered material, just because it wasn't intentionally put there. That's like only requiring labeling of peanut-containing food if the product intentionally contains peanuts, ignoring other products made on the same assembly-line. 

There are several other exceptions that make me think this proposition would only increase bureaucracy and tax-payer expenses, while not actually addressing the ethical, social, environmental, or health concerns related to genetically modified organisms. The latter I can get on board with. But please don't try to scare me into legislation with faulty arguments.

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